Ganga among 10 dying rivers

via www.keralaonline.com published on March 21, 2007

New Delhi: The Ganga, which is virtually synonymous with Indian civilisation, is dying. Pollution, over-extraction of water, emaciated tributaries and climatic changes are killing the mighty river, on whose fecund plains live one in 12 people of this planet.

This grim prognosis was made by conservation group WWF on Tuesday. Apart from Ganga, Indus, Nile and Yangtze are among the 10 most endangered rivers of the world.

The Ganga basin makes up almost a third of India’s land area and its rich soil is home to millions of people. However, indiscriminate extraction of water with modern tube wells from the river as well as its basin, coupled with the damming of its tributaries for irrigation, have seriously reduced its flow.

Climate change has added to the threat. Said WWF programme director Sejal Worah: “Glaciers account for as 30 to 40% of water in the Ganga and this goes up to 70-80% in the case of Indus. Studies are required to gauge the impact of melting glaciers on the flow.”

Apart from humans, many other kinds of lives are in danger due to Ganga’s degeneration. The river is home to more than 140 fish species, 90 amphibian species and the endangered Ganga river dolphin. And Ganga is, of course, sacred to Hindus, besides having spawned many great cities on its banks.

Nehru had once said, “From her source to the sea, from old times to new, the Ganga is the story of India’s civilisation.” The report is a wake-up call not only to save the great river but also this great civilisation, said WWF officials.

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